Tony Britton, Fundraising and PR Manager, ME Association
As confirmed cases of coronavirus passed the 40 million mark round the globe this week, four young women talked to ‘Cosmopolitan’ this week about their battles with Long Covid – months after going down with what they thought was a mild form of the virus.
Claire, Miranda, Amy and Laura all talked separately to the magazine’s digital features editor, Catriona Harvey-Jenner. They had all been sick with Covid-19 since March.
Even though none had been hospitalised by covid, each of them was experiencing a different array of devastating, even bizarre symptoms.
And in a unique encounter – the kind of thing that nowadays really only ever happens online – Catriona wove some sound diagnostic and medical advice from ME Association medical adviser Dr Charles Shepherd round their stories.
The women are each going through a living hell.
For instance, Claire (33) had already seen her mother hospitalised by the virus, where she spent a month in intensive care including 10 days on a ventilator.
Two months after her own infection and back at work, Clair thought she was getting better again but crashed.
She is now barely coping with a battery of savage long covid symptoms – intense fatigue, joint pain, muscle ache, nausea, insomnia, memory less and other horrors. She’s had to leave her job.
And 23-year-old Laura thought she could exercise her way back to health. One week she walked 20,000 steps to test herself and floored herself utterly.
“I’ve never had an illness that didn’t have a quick fix before”, she told ‘Cosmopolitan’.
Dr Shepherd has spent the past 40 years becoming an expert in the various post-viral fatigue syndromes.
In his running commentary, Dr Shepherd said he noticed that Long Covid seems be more common in young people.
“It’s quite striking – but not necessarily surprising – that many of them are people in their 20s, 30s, 40s, who were previously fit young adults and had the viral infection at home,” he says.
“This is exactly the sort of age group that we get from people who develop ME. We’re not saying everyone who’s got Long COVID has got ME/CFS or an ME/CFS-like illness. What we’re saying is that it’s a spectrum of all kinds of post-viral disorders.”
He urged doctors not to dismiss patient reports because they don’t have an immediate answer for them.
“What’s important is just getting doctors to listen; to believe their patients, have some empathy with them. They must try to explain the uncertainties associated with [Long COVID] and give patients good advice on self-help management because there’s no drug treatment for this at the moment.” he said.
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